Playwright-director Natsu Onoda Power has created a new interactive and virtual theater experience "Okinawa Field Trip" to transport audiences out of their pandemic-bound living rooms Monday, APRIL 19 - Thursday, APRIL 22, 2021 at 7 p.m. and Monday, APRIL 26 - Thursday, APRIL 29, 2021 at 7 p.m.
The virtual event serves as the main project in the Georgetown University Theater & Performance Studies Program's 2020-21 home season, "Seeds of Change: Reimagining the World," celebrating the Davis Performing Arts Center's 15th anniversary.
The multiple Helen Hayes Award-winning ("The Lathe of Heaven," Spooky Action Theater/Georgetown University) GU Theater & Performance Studies Professor develops the project with a group of students, loading clusters of virtual participants aboard a "bus" to "real-and-imaginary" Okinawa. As the bus travels through time and space, the audiences will encounter characters from Okinawan folk tales, take selfies on beautiful beaches, meet a lonely ghost of a U.S. soldier, sample some delicious Okinawan food, and observe a contemporary-day protest against the construction of a new US Marine base in Henoko Bay.
With the assistance of host Doug, a dugong (critically endangered marine mammal related to a manatee that dwells in waters off Okinawa Prefecture), the whimsical and powerful "Okinawa Field Trip" explores themes of environmental issues alongside US-Japan relationships, social justice, and historical reconciliation.
As Onoda Power describes the project, "Think 'Magical Mystery Tour' meets 'Get on the Bus' meets 'The MARCH of the Penguins'... But interactive!" She notes, "Okinawa is simultaneously the most beautiful, the most welcoming, the most oppressed, and the most haunted place I have ever been."
Mainland Japan-born Onoda Power went to Okinawa for the first time in Sept. 2019 to begin conducting research for a new play. When she returned to the island in MARCH 2020, her trip was unexpectedly prolonged when the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic broke out and flights were cancelled. During her extended stay, Power learned about and live streamed nonviolent protests by residents that have taken place daily for the past 20 years (except Sundays, holidays, and typhoon days), against the expansion of a United States military base.
Prof. MAYa E. Roth, artistic director of the Davis Performing Arts Center, says, "'Okinawa Field Trip' speaks to our 'Seeds of Change: Reimagining the World' season theme on many levels. It exemplifies our developmental incubation of new work and experimentation with new ways of making theater. We are thrilled to support faculty member Natsu Onoda Power as artist, activist, and researcher, and her commitment to multimedia experimentation-involving students and guest artists-and to cross-cultural community engagement, including Natsu's 'Adaptation' class as they assist in adapting Okinawan folk tales for the project, as well as artists and activists in Okinawa."
Both "Okinawa Field Trip" and Onoda Power's "Okinawa Demo Reel"-an episodic video project featured as part of Studio Theatre's new work incubator series, Studio R&D: Works in Process-are all part of COVID-era development of a new production intended for eventual live audiences. Studio's "Okinawa Demo Reel" includes three installments: "Taco Rice," "A Protest in Three Acts," and "Protest Chess," and allows audiences a window into Onoda Power's creative process as she creates a play about imperialism, colonialism, militarization and connecting across differences. Prof. Soyica Colbert, Idol Family Professor and Interim Dean at Georgetown College, who is also professor of African American Studies and Theater & Performance Studies, serves as dramaturg for the projects.
Onoda Power's projects as director have been seen in the Washington region at Studio Theatre, Mosaic Theater, Theatre J, and Center Stage Baltimore, in addition to many productions at Georgetown University, including the world premiere of "Wind Me Up, Maria! A Go-Go Musical," co-created with Rare Essence singer Charles "Shorty" Corleone; "War with the Newts" (adapted from Karel Čapek); "On the Origin of Species" (adapted from Charles Darwin); "The Omnivore's Dilemma" (adapted from Michael Pollan); "Madness and Civilization" (adapted from Michel Foucault); "Trees and Ghosts" (adapted from Osamu Tezuka); and "Swimmy and Other Stories" (adapted from Leo Lionni).
FREE, register for "Okinawa Field Trip" on Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/okinawa-field-trip-tickets-145757054273
Visit the GU Department of Performing Arts website at performingarts.georgetown.edu.